Movie and TV Reviews

Reviews for New Movies Released September 18 – October 23, 2020

2 Hearts (Photo courtesy of Freestyle Digital Media)

 

12 Hour Shift (Photo by Matt Glass/Magnet Releasing)

 

Alone (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

 

Antebellum (Photo by Matt Kennedy/Lionsgate)

 

The Artist’s Wife (Photo courtesy of Strand Releasing)

 

Black Box (Photo by Alan Markfield/Amazon Studios)

 

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (Photo courtesy of Epic Pictures)

 

The Dark Divide (Photo courtesy of Strike Back Studios and REI Co-op Studios)

 

Do Not Reply (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

 

The Doorman (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

 

Evil Eye (Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/Amazon Studios)

 

Halloween Party (Photo courtesy of Red Hound Films)

 

Honest Thief (Photo courtesy of Open Road Films)

 

Hosts (Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films)

 

I’ve Got Issues (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

 

Kajillionaire (Photo by Matt Kennedy/Focus Features)

 

The Lie (Photo by Jasper Savage/Amazon Studios)

 

Love and Monsters (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

 

LX 2048 (Photo courtesy of Quiver Distribution)

 

Mighty Ira (Photo courtesy of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)

 

Misbehaviour (Photo courtesy of Shout! Factory)

 

Nocturne (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

 

Once Upon a River (Photo by Daniel Klutznick/Film Movement)

 

On the Rocks (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

 

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles (Photo courtesy of IFC Films)

 

The Place of No Words (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

 

Possessor Uncut (Photo courtesy of Neon)

 

The Racer (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

 

Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs (Image courtesy of Lionsgate)

 

Roald Dahl’s The Witches (Photo by Daniel Smith/HBO Max)

 

Save Yourselves! (Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street)

 

She’s in Portland (Photo courtesy of Freestyle Digital Media)

 

Shithouse (Photo courtesy of IFC Films)

 

Shortcut (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

 

Somebody Up There Likes Me (Photo courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment)

 

Spontaneous (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

 

The Swerve (Photo courtesy of Epic Pictures)

 

Tar (Photo courtesy of 1091 Pictures)

 

Ten Minutes to Midnight (Photo courtesy of 1091 Pictures)

 

Then Came You (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

 

Time (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

 

Totally Under Control (Photo courtesy of Neon)

 

The War With Grandpa (Photo courtesy of 101 Studios)

 

The Wolf of Snow Hollow (Photo courtesy of Orion Classics)

 

Yellow Rose (Photo courtesy of Stage 6 Films)

Complete List of Reviews

1BR — horror

2/1 — drama

2 Graves in the Desert — drama

2 Hearts — drama

2 Minutes of Fame — comedy

5 Years Apart — comedy

12 Hour Shift — horror

17 Blocks — documentary

37 Seconds — drama

The 420 Movie (2020) — comedy

2040 — documentary

7500 — drama

Aamis — drama

Abe — drama

Advocate — documentary

After Class (formerly titled Safe Spaces) — comedy/drama

After Parkland — documentary

After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News — documentary

AKA Jane Roe — documentary

Algorithm: Bliss — sci-fi/horror

All Day and a Night — drama

All I Can Say — documentary

All In: The Fight for Democracy — documentary

Almost Love (also titled Sell By) — comedy/drama

Alone (2020) (starring Tyler Posey) — horror

Amazing Grace — documentary

An American Pickle — comedy

American Street Kid — documentary

American Woman — drama

Amulet — horror

And Then We Danced — drama

Antebellum — horror

Anthony — drama

Apocalypse ’45 — documentary

The Apollo — documentary

The Argument — comedy

Artemis Fowl — fantasy

The Artist’s Wife — drama

Ask for Jane — drama

Ask No Questions — documentary

The Assistant — drama

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal — documentary

Athlete A — documentary

Babysplitters — comedy

Babyteeth — drama

Bacurau — drama

Bad Boys for Life — action

Bad Education (2020) — drama

Bad Therapy (formerly titled Judy Small) — comedy/drama

Banana Split — comedy

Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art — documentary

Beanpole — drama

Beastie Boys Story — documentary

Becoming — documentary

Behind You — horror

Beneath Us — horror

Big Time Adolescence — comedy/drama

The Big Ugly — drama

Bill & Ted Face the Music — sci-fi/comedy

The Binge — comedy

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) — action

Blackbird (2020) — drama

Black Box (2020) — drama

Black Is King — musical

Black Magic for White Boys — comedy

Blessed Child — documentary

Blood and Money — drama

Blood on Her Name — drama

Bloodshot (2020) — sci-fi/action

Blow the Man Down — drama

Blue Story — drama

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island — horror

Body Cam — horror

The Booksellers — documentary

The Boys (premiere episode) — sci-fi/drama

Brahms: The Boy II — horror

Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists — documentary

The Broken Hearts Gallery — comedy

Browse — drama

Buffaloed — comedy

Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn — documentary

Burden (2020) — drama

Burning Cane — drama

The Burnt Orange Heresy — drama

The Call of the Wild (2020) — live-action/animation

Call Your Mother — documentary

Cane River — drama

Capone — drama

Carmilla — drama

Castle in the Ground — drama

Centigrade — drama

Changing the Game — documentary

Children of the Sea — animation

Circus of Books — documentary

The Clearing (2020) — horror

Clementine — drama

Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun — documentary

Clover — drama

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert — documentary

Coffee & Kareem — comedy

Color Out of Space — sci-fi/horror

Come as You Are (2020)  — comedy

Come to Daddy — horror

The Cordillera of Dreams — documentary

Count Basie: Through His Own Eyes — documentary

Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words — documentary

Creem: America’s Only Rock’n’Roll Magazine — documentary

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution — documentary

Critical Thinking — drama

Crown Vic — drama

CRSHD — comedy

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw — horror

Cut Throat City — drama

Da 5 Bloods — drama

Daddy Issues (2020) — comedy

Dads — documentary

Dangerous Lies — drama

The Dark Divide — drama

A Day in the Life of America — documentary

Days of Rage: The Rolling Stones’ Road to Altamont — documentary

Days of the Whale — drama

A Deadly Legend — horror

Decade of Fire — documentary

The Deeper You Dig — horror

The Delicacy — documentary

Denise Ho — Becoming the Song — documentary

Desolation Center — documentary

Desperados — comedy

Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge — horror

Devil’s Pie – D’Angelo — documentary

Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy — documentary

Disappearance at Clifton Hill — drama

Disclosure (2020) — documentary

Diving With Dolphins — documentary

The Dog Doc — documentary

Dolittle — live-action/animation

Dolphin Reef — documentary

Do Not Reply — horror

The Doorman (2020) — action

Dosed — documentary

Downhill — comedy

Dreamland (2020) (starring Margot Robbie) — drama

Driven to Abstraction — documentary

Driveways — drama

Easy Does It — comedy

Elephant (2020) — documentary

Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things — documentary

Emma (2020) — comedy/drama

End of Sentence — drama

Epicentro — documentary

The Etruscan Smile (also titled Rory’s Way) — drama

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga — comedy

Evil Eye (2020) — horror

Exit Plan — drama

Extraction (2020) — action

A Fall From Grace — drama

Fatal Affair (2020) — drama

Fatima (2020) — drama

The Fight (2020) — documentary

First Cow — drama

Flipped (2020) — comedy

Force of Nature (2020) — action

For They Know Not What They Do — documentary

Four Kids and It — fantasy

Framing John DeLorean — documentary

Game of Death (2020) — horror

Ganden: A Joyful Land — documentary

The Garden Left Behind — drama

The Gasoline Thieves — drama

Gay Chorus Deep South — documentary

The Gentlemen — action

Get Duked! (formerly titled Boyz in the Wood) — comedy

Get Gone — horror

The Ghost of Peter Sellers — documentary

A Girl From Mogadishu — drama

A Girl Missing — drama

The Go-Go’s — documentary

Goldie — drama

Good Posture — comedy

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind — documentary

Greed — comedy/drama

Gretel & Hansel — horror

Greyhound — drama

The Grudge (2020) — horror

Guest of Honour — drama

The Half of It — comedy

Halloween Party (2020) — horror

Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics — documentary

He Dreams of Giants — documentary

Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation — documentary

Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful — documentary

The High Note — comedy/drama

Holly Slept Over — comedy

Honest Thief — action

Hooking Up (2020) — comedy

Hope Gap — drama

Horse Girl — sci-fi/drama

The Host (2020) — horror

Hosts — horror

House of Hummingbird — drama

How to Build a Girl — comedy

Human Capital — drama

Human Nature (2020) — documentary

The Hunt — horror

I Am Human — documentary

I Am Somebody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story — drama

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation — action

I Hate New York — documentary

I Hate the Man in My Basement — drama

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me — documentary

Impractical Jokers: The Movie — comedy

Incitement — drama

Infamous (2020) — drama

The Infiltrators — docudrama

Initials SG — drama

Inna De Yard: The Soul of Jamaica — documentary

Instaband — documentary

In the Footsteps of Elephant — documentary

The Invisible Man (2020) — horror

Irresistible (2020) — comedy

I Still Believe — drama

It Takes a Lunatic — documentary

I Used to Go Here — comedy/drama

I’ve Got Issues — comedy

I Want My MTV — documentary

I Will Make You Mine — drama

Jay Myself — documentary

John Henry — action

John Lewis: Good Trouble — documentary

Judy & Punch — drama

Kajillionaire — comedy/drama

Kat and the Band — comedy

Kaye Ballard: The Show Goes On! — documentary

Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections — documentary

Killer Therapy — horror

The Kill Team (2019) — drama

Kill the Monsters — drama

The Kindness of Strangers — drama

The King of Staten Island — comedy/drama

La Llorona — horror

The Last Full Measure — drama

The Lawyer — drama

Leftover Women — documentary

Les Misérables (2019) — drama

The Lie (2020) — comedy

Like a Boss — comedy

Limerence — comedy

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice — documentary

Lingua Franca — drama

The Lodge — horror

The Longest Wave — documentary

Lost Bayou — drama

Lost Transmissions — drama

Los Últimos Frikis — documentary

Love and Monsters — sci-fi/horror/action

The Lovebirds — comedy

Love Wedding Repeat — comedy

Low Tide — drama

Lucky Grandma — action

Luz: The Flower of Evil — horror

LX 2048 — sci-fi

Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over — documentary

Mai Khoi & the Dissidents — documentary

The Main Event (2020) — action

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound— documentary

Martha: A Picture Story — documentary

Martin Margiela: In His Own Words — documentary

Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back — documentary

Mighty Ira — documentary

Mighty Oak — drama

Military Wives — comedy/drama

The Mindfulness Movement — documentary

Misbehaviour — drama

Miss Americana — documentary

Most Dangerous Game — action

Most Wanted (formerly titled Target Number One) — drama

Mr. Soul! — documentary

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado — documentary

Mulan (2020) — fantasy

Murder in the Front Row: The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story — documentary

Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story — documentary

My Boyfriend’s Meds — comedy

My Darling Vivian — documentary

My Spy — comedy

Mystify: Michael Hutchence — documentary

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind — documentary

Never Rarely Sometimes Always — drama

Never Too Late (2020) — comedy

A Nice Girl Like You — comedy

Noah Land — drama

Nocturne (2020) — horror

Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin — documentary

No Small Matter — documentary

The Old Guard — action

Olympia — documentary

Olympic Dreams — comedy/drama

Once Upon a River — drama

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band — documentary

One Hour Outcall — drama

One Night in Bangkok — drama

Only — sci-fi/drama

On the Record — documentary

On the Rocks (2020) — drama

On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries — documentary

Onward — animation

Open — drama

Ordinary Love — drama

Otherhood — comedy

The Other Lamb — drama

Other Music — documentary

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles — documentary

Our Time Machine — documentary

Out of Blue — drama

The Outpost — drama

Out Stealing Horses — drama

The Painter and the Thief — documentary

Palm Springs — comedy

Parkland Rising — documentary

A Patient Man — drama

The Personal History of David Copperfield — comedy/drama

The Photograph — drama

Picture Character — documentary

The Place of No Words — drama

Plucked — documentary

Plus One (2019) — comedy

The Pollinators — documentary

Pornstar Pandemic: The Guys — documentary

Possessor Uncut — sci-fi/horror

Premature (2020) — drama

The Price of Desire — drama

Project Power — sci-fi/action

Public Enemy Number One — documentary

The Quiet One — documentary

The Racer — drama

Radioactive — drama

Raising Buchanan — comedy

Rebuilding Paradise — documentary

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project — documentary

Red Penguins — documentary

Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs — animation

A Regular Woman — drama

Relic — horror

The Rental (2020) — horror

Rent-A-Pal — horror

The Rescue List — documentary

Resistance (2020) — drama

Retaliation (formerly titled Romans) — drama

Rewind — documentary

The Rhythm Section — action

Ride Like a Girl — drama

River City Drumbeat — documentary

Roald Dahl’s The Witches — horror/fantasy

Robert the Bruce — drama

Runner — documentary

Run With the Hunted — drama

Saint Frances — comedy/drama

Save Yourselves! — sci-fi/horror/comedy

The Scheme (2020) — documentary

Scheme Birds — documentary

Scoob! — animation

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street — documentary

Screened Out — documentary

Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth (formerly titled Seahorse) — documentary

Seberg — drama

The Secret: Dare to Dream — drama

A Secret Love — documentary

The Secrets We Keep — drama

See Know Evil — documentary

See You Yesterday — sci-fi/drama

Selah and the Spades — drama

Sergio (2020) — drama

Shadows of Freedom — documentary

She Dies Tomorrow — drama

She’s in Portland — drama

Shine Your Eyes — drama

Shirley — drama

Shithouse — drama

Shortcut — horror

The Short History of the Long Road — drama

Showbiz Kids — documentary

The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock — documentary

A Simple Wedding — comedy

Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons — documentary

Skin Walker — horror

Skyman — sci-fi/drama

Slay the Dragon — documentary

Somebody Up There Likes Me (2020) — documentary

Sometimes Always Never — comedy/drama

The Sonata — horror

Sonic the Hedgehog — live-action/animation

Sorry We Missed You — drama

Spaceship Earth — documentary

Spelling the Dream (formerly titled Breaking the Bee) — documentary

Spontaneous — sci-fi/horror/comedy

Sputnik — sci-fi/horror

Standing Up, Falling Down — comedy/drama

Starting at Zero — documentary

Stevenson Lost & Found — documentary

Still Here (2020) — drama

The Story of Soaps — documentary

The Stranger (Quibi original) — drama

Stray Dolls — drama

Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash — drama

The Stylist — horror

Sublime — documentary

Summerland — drama

The Sunlit Night — comedy/drama

The Surrogate — drama

Survive — drama

Swallow — drama

The Swerve — drama

The Swing of Things — comedy

Tape — drama

Tar — horror

A Taste of Sky — documentary

Ten Minutes to Midnight  — horror

Tesla  — drama

Then Came You (2020)  — comedy

The Thing About Harry  — comedy

Think Like a Dog — comedy/drama

This Is Personal — documentary

This Is Stand-Up — documentary

A Thousand Cuts (2020) — documentary

A Thread of Deceit: The Hart Family Tragedy — documentary

Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison — comedy

Time (2020) — documentary

The Times of Bill Cunningham — documentary

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made  — comedy

To Kid or Not to Kid — documentary

The Tobacconist — drama

Tommaso — drama

Tom of Your Life — sci-fi/comedy

Totally Under Control — documentary

The Trip to Greece — comedy

Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts — documentary

Trolls World Tour — animation

Troop Zero — comedy

The Truth — drama

The Turning (2020) — horror

Tyson — documentary

Unbelievable (premiere episode) — drama

Uncaged (also titled Prey) – horror

Uncorked — drama

Underwater — sci-fi/horror

Unhinged (2020) — action

Up From the Streets: New Orleans: The City of Music — documentary

Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own — documentary

Valley Girl (2020) — musical

The Vanished (2020) (formerly titled Hour of Lead)— drama

The Vast of Night — sci-fi/drama

Vas-y Coupe! — documentary

Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations — documentary

Vivarium — sci-fi/drama

Waiting for the Barbarians — drama

The War With Grandpa — comedy

Watson — documentary

The Way Back (2020) — drama

We Are Freestyle Love Supreme — documentary

We Are Little Zombies — comedy/drama

We Are the Radical Monarchs — documentary

Weathering With You — animation

Welcome to Chechnya — documentary

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali — documentary

What We Found — drama

What Will Become of Us — documentary

When the Streetlights Go On — drama

The Whistlers — drama

A White, White Day — drama

Widow of Silence — drama

Wig — documentary

The Windermere Children — drama

The Wolf House — animation

The Wolf of Snow Hollow — horror

A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem — documentary

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation — documentary

Words on Bathroom Walls — drama

Work It — comedy/drama

The Wretched — horror

The Wrong Missy — comedy

XY Chelsea — documentary

Yellow Rose — drama

You Cannot Kill David Arquette — documentary

You Don’t Nomi — documentary

You Go to My Head — drama

You Should Have Left — horror

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn — documentary

Zombi Child — horror

Review: ‘On the Rocks,’ starring Rashida Jones and Bill Murray

October 23, 2020

by Carla Hay

Rashida Jones and Bill Murray in “On the Rocks” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

“On the Rocks” (2020)

Directed by Sofia Coppola

Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City and Mexico, the dramatic film “On the Rocks” features a cast of white and African American characters (and a few Asians) representing the upper-middle-class and middle class.

Culture Clash: A married mother of two young daughters begins to believe her philandering father’s suspicions that her husband is cheating on her.

Culture Audience: “On the Rocks” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching movies about “privileged people’s problems.”

Marlon Wayans, Rashida Jones, Alexandra Reimer and Liyanna Muscat in “On the Rocks” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

“On the Rocks,” written and directed by Sofia Coppola, is the type of movie that Woody Allen has made for most of his career, but “On the Rocks” is told from a female director’s perspective. It’s a story about an upper-middle-class woman in New York City who spends almost the entire movie worrying about whether or not her husband is cheating on her. And there are several scenes with conversations about the differences between how men and women handle romance and a committed relationship.

In order for the film not to be too talkative and have some action, “On the Rocks” throws in a plot development of “I’m going to spy on my husband,” so that viewers get to see different angles of her privileged lifestyle, where she can have cocktails at exclusive lounges in the middle of the day and jet off to Mexico whenever she wants. And did we mention that this woman has daddy issues? Because that’s what’s propelling her to feel so insecure about her marriage.

“On the Rocks” telegraphs those daddy issues from the film’s opening scene, which features a dark screen with a voiceover of an unseen man telling his unseen daughter, who is presumably underage at the time this conversation is taking place: “And remember, don’t give your heart to any boys until you’re married. And then you’re still mine.”

The movie then cuts to the lavish wedding of Laura (played by Rashida Jones) and Dean (played by Marlon Wayans), who are blissfully happy on this big day in their relationship. The wedding reception is in one of those European-styled ballroom halls that includes a romantically lit swimming pool on the property. When they are alone at the reception, Laura and Dean are seen impulsively stripped down to their underwear and frolicking in the swimming pool.

The movie then fast-forwards several years later. Laura and Dean are now parents to two daughters: Maya (played by Liyanna Muscat), who’s about 9 or 10 years old, and Theo (played by identical twins Alexandra Reimer and Anna Reimer), who’s about 3 or 4 years old. Maya and Theo are both adorable and obedient kids. Dean is a busy executive at a company whose industry is not named, but it’s the type of company that revolves around getting clients from all over the world. Therefore, Dean does a lot of traveling.

Laura, who’s 39 and soon about to turn 40, is a writer who’s working on a novel called “Amici e Conoscenti,” which is Italian for “Friends and Acquaintances.” The movie has a brief flash of the book cover, and it looks as pretentious as it sounds. Laura and Dean live in the type of spacious New York City apartment that’s for people who can afford a home that’s worth at least $3 million. However, they don’t have servants, and Laura’s casual style of dressing indicates that she tries to be as “down-to-earth” as possible.

One thing that Laura is very uptight about though is her current situation of having writer’s block. She moans to Dean that she shouldn’t have sold her book before writing it. Laura, who works from home, also complains that it’s hard for her to adjust to writing during the day when she’s accustomed to writing at night. In other words, Laura has privileged people’s problems.

And soon, there’s another problem that will preoccupy Laura’s thoughts. One night, when Laura and Dean are in bed, he starts kissing her while he’s half-asleep, but then he suddenly stops when he hears Laura’s voice. Laura doesn’t really know what to think about this interrupted amorous moment, so she asks two people in separate phone conversations. And she gets two completely different answers.

The first person she asks is an unidentified female friend, who tells Laura that she shouldn’t worry about it because Dean is a wonderful and loving husband who wouldn’t cheat on her. The other person Laura talks to about it is her father Felix (played by Bill Murray), who immediately tells Laura that Dean is probably cheating on her. Laura gives Dean the benefit of the doubt and tries to put the incident out of her mind.

But then, one day, while she’s unpacking Dean’s luggage, she sees a woman’s toiletry bag in his suitcase. She opens the bag and sees body oil. She takes the bag out and leaves it on the dresser. Her suspicions begin to percolate, but she doesn’t say anything to Dean about it right away. Some of the passion has gone out of their marriage, but Laura thinks it’s because they’ve been busy with their separate careers.

Soon after finding this mystery toiletry bag, Laura and Dean attend a work party that Dean’s company is having at the office. At the party, she meets for the first time a woman named Fiona (played by Jessica Henwick), a fairly new account manager who works closely with Dean and usually goes on the same business trips with Dean and some of their other colleagues. Fiona is outgoing, effusive, and seems very happy to meet Laura.

Fiona then introduces Laura to two other work colleagues: Jenna (played by Zoe Bullock) and Chase (played by Chase Sui Wonders), who aren’t as friendly as Fiona. In fact, they seem slightly uncomfortable talking to Laura, so the conversation is brief and awkward. At this point, viewers are probably thinking what Laura is probably thinking: “Are any of these women having an affair with Dean?”

On the ride back home, Laura casually mentions the toiletry bag that she found in Dean’s suitcase. He tells her that the bag belongs to Fiona, who asked him to carry it for her in his suitcase because it the toiletry bag couldn’t fit into her carry-on luggage. He says he’ll return the bag to Fiona. Dean’s response seems open and honest, without hesitation, surprise or guilt. And so, Laura accepts that explanation and doesn’t make a big issue out of it.

However, Laura’s father Felix won’t let it go, and he plants seeds of doubt in Laura’s mind about Dean’s marital fidelity when he starts interrogating Laura about Dean’s activities when Dean is away on business trips. Felix, who is a semi-retired art dealer who used to own an art gallery, even gives an analysis of the type of hotels that Dean stays at, by commenting on which hotels are more discreet than others if someone wants to have an affair. Felix is also an incessant name dropper who loves to brag about all the people around the world he knows, including hotel concierges, who can do favors for him.

How does Felix know all of about the mind of a cheater? Because he’s a longtime philanderer, and it’s the reason why Felix and Laura’s mother Diane (played by Alva Chinn) got divorced years ago. Felix left Diane for his mistress, a woman named Robin, but that relationship didn’t work out either.

It’s not clearly stated when Felix and Diane got divorced, but it’s implied that it happened when Laura and her younger sister Amanda (played by Juliana Canfield) were still children and living at home. It’s clear as the story goes on that the devastation of the divorce and Felix’s perpetual selfishness have caused Amanda to become estranged from her father. And the pent-up resentment that Laura has about Felix’s role in the divorce comes out later in the movie’s best scene.

Felix is addicted to being a playboy, because everywhere he goes, he flirts with women who are almost always young enough to be his daughter. He also has an outdated, very sexist attitude toward life that is a mix of Neanderthal and elitist. In the beginning of the movie, Felix is only heard on the phone because he’s away on a trip in Paris. When he arrives back in New York City to see Laura, his insufferable personality is on full display.

Felix loves to spout self-righteous platitudes where he thinks he’s always right in his mindset that men always have to be dominant and superior to women. His ramblings are a mishmash of garbled anthropology and philosophy to justify why he has such a sexist attitude toward women. It’s really all just Felix’s egomaniacal way of denying that he’s a crass boor who doesn’t want to admit that a lot of men have evolved from the old days when women were treated like property.

For example, in one scene, Felix explains to Laura that in ancient times, women’s breasts reminded men of when humans used to walk on their haunches. The rounder the breasts, the more desirable the woman, according to Felix. Felix also says that men are attracted to adolescent females because adolescent females are easier to catch and therefore easier to mate with in man’s instinctual need to spread his seed. What’s creepy about this comment about adolescent females is that Felix thinks that what applied to ancient times—when human life expectancy was much shorter than it is now and having kids at age 14 was considered normal—applies to society today.

Adding to the “creep” level of Felix, he’s weirdly flattered when he and Laura are out in public together and people assume that Laura is his girlfriend. He mentions it any chance he gets to Laura, who is understandably uncomfortable with this semi-incestuous implication. It’s pathetic insecurity on Felix’s part, but there’s not much Laura thinks she can do about it because he’s her father and he’s set in his ways. Occasionally, she scolds him by saying things like, “Can you just be normal around women?”

And it comes as no surprise that Felix thinks that men aren’t wired to be monogamous. It’s an incredibly narrow-minded viewpoint that doesn’t take into account that not everyone is the same when it comes to love and committed relationships. It’s an example of how Felix, as he does throughout the entire story, believes that his way of thinking is always the correct way, even if it’s “politically incorrect” by today’s standards.

As annoying as Felix might be to some people watching this movie, there are many men with money and privilege who think the exact same way. They might not share these thoughts with everyone, but they will talk about it with people whom they feel comfortable with, and this backwards mindset is reflected in how they live their lives. (These are the type of men who hate the #MeToo movement.) Some people might think that the Felix character is over-the-top and unrealistic, but it’s a very accurate depiction of how some people in certain social circles really think and act in life.

And so, it comes as no surprise, considering Felix’s history of infidelity, that he’s quick to assume that Dean is cheating on Laura. Felix keeps nagging Laura to do something about it and even takes it upon himself to hire a private detective to spy on Dean. Felix keeps telling Laura that Dean is probably having an affair with Fiona.

At first, Laura is appalled by Felix’s assumptions, but eventually she gets sucked into Felix’s suspicions and gives in to the idea that she should start spying on Dean too. Felix is happy to egg her on, and he spearheads arrangements so that Laura can go with him on these spying excursions.

There are several scenes where Felix shows up at Laura’s home or calls her and expects her to drop everything to have Laura accompany him for drinks at this swanky hotel or that upscale lounge. Over cocktails and at stuffy parties, they commiserate over Dean’s possible infidelity, as well as talk about Felix’s point of view that it’s harder for men to be faithful spouses than it is for women.

At one point in the movie, Laura wails to Felix and asks him if it’s possible for women to keep their love partner’s interest and if it’s possible for men to still be attracted women once they reach past a certain age. (Felix believes a woman reaches her attractiveness “expiration date” around the age of 40.) Felix says that it’s possible for a woman to hold a man’s interest in a long-term relationship if she still has confidence that she’s attractive.

Even though Felix is the last person to lecture about successful, monogamous relationships, he does have a good point about self-confidence that Laura completely misses because she’s become too caught up in her own misery and insecurities in thinking that she might not be good enough for Dean anymore. An objective observer would also be able to see that Felix seems way too invested and too eager to find out if Dean is a lying, cheating husband. It’s as if Felix wants confirmation that there are more men than not who are cheaters, even if it means that his daughter will be emotionally hurt in the process.

The dynamics between Laura and the women in her family have subtle clues about how race and class play a role in their family’s hierarchy. There’s a scene where Laura, her sister Amanda, and their multiracial mother Diane are having an outdoor luncheon with Felix’s mother (played by Barbara Bain), who’s called Gran in the movie, at Gran’s grand estate. Gran immediately expresses disapproval to Laura about how Laura is dressed (Laura tends to wear blazers, jeans and flat shoes), while Diane nips this criticism in the bud by telling Laura that she looks great.

The topic inevitably turns to Felix, who is clearly a troublemaker in the family, and Gran makes excuses for him by saying he was rebellious even as a child. Amanda tells Laura that she doesn’t know how she can still put up with their father, while Diane (who’s been through enough with Felix to last a lifetime), tries not to say anything negative about Felix in front of his mother. This scene explains a lot about Felix’s upbringing and why he turned out the way that he did. (Felix’s father is not seen or mentioned in the movie, but it’s implied that Felix’s mother is a widow.)

In one of Felix and Laura’s spying excursions, Felix shows his elitist attitude when he scoffs that Dean and some colleagues are going to be hanging out at Soho House (a members-only social club in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood), which Felix considers to be a “downmarket” place because it’s apparently not upscale enough for Felix. For this spying trip, Felix picks up Laura in his red Alfa Romeo, as you do when you’re spying on someone and you want to show off your car instead of being truly incognito.

When Dean and Fiona get in a taxi together, it leads to a not-very-subtle car chase with Felix speeding to try catch up to the taxi. Felix gets pulled over for speeding by two cop partners, but he charms his way out of getting a ticket because Felix happens to know the father and grandfather of one of the cops. The cop’s demeanor changes from stern to friendly.

As Felix and Laura drive off, Laura says to him, “It must be great to be you.” And Felix agrees. The words “white privilege” aren’t said in this scene, but this scene shows how someone like Felix can get away with certain things, while someone of a different color or race who’s pulled over by police for the same reason probably wouldn’t be let off as easily.

The subplot about Laura’s writer’s block is important because it provides some context for why Laura wastes time and goes along with Felix’s schemes. She’s avoiding working on her book to go off to wherever Felix thinks they should go on a moment’s notice. She’s running away from a problem (finishing her book) by distracting herself with another potential problem (her possibly crumbling marriage).

Nowhere is this avoidance more evident than when Felix convinces Laura that they should go to Mexico to spy on Dean while he’s on a business trip there with Fiona. In the movie’s most unrealistic contrivance, Felix just happens to know someone who owns a condo that’s right next to the resort in Mexico where Dean is staying. And so, Laura hastily arranges for her mother to watch the kids while she flies off to Mexico with Felix for a few days. This trip leads to a reckoning that gives clarity to Laura on her relationship with her father and on her marriage.

Because the movie is more about Laura’s relationship with Felix than it is about Laura’s relationship with Dean, this father and daughter are the two characters who get the most screen time. Dean seems like an overall good guy, but there’s not enough shown of him and the other supporting characters to give any insight into their personalities. Jenny Slate has a recurring role as a single mother named Vanessa, whose son goes to the same school as Laura’s daughter Maya. Vanessa’s only purpose in the movie is to give neurotic, rambling monologues about her love life to Laura while they’re waiting somewhere at the school, and Laura has to find an excuse to get away from Vanessa.

Jones is the cast member who shines the most in the emotional scenes between her and Murray, who portrays Felix as jaded and desperately trying not to show his insecurities. For all of Felix’s macho attitude toward women, he’s still very much alone and doesn’t have a romantic partner in his life who truly loves him and vice versa. There’s a world-weary sadness that Murray brings to the role that’s nuanced among Felix’s ego posturing.

The movie is also a subtle commentary on how people who seemingly “have it all” can still find ways to create problems in their lives, often out of sheer boredom. Because really, the average person does not have time to gallivant around cocktail lounges during the day and fly to resorts in other countries with their father on short notice, in order to spy on a spouse.

However, amid all of these shenanigans, what this movie shows is that Laura and Felix, in their own ways, are haunted by how infidelity and divorce had an effect on their family. Laura doesn’t want to go through what her mother Diane experienced (having her husband leave her for another woman), while Felix is determined to show Laura that it could happen to her because he’s convinced that Dean is cheating on Laura.

Rashida Jones, who is the daughter of Grammy-winning legend Quincy Jones, co-directed the 2018 documentary “Quincy” about her father’s life. This documentary, which had Quincy Jones’ participation, shows that Rashida also has a close but complicated relationship with her divorced father, who has publicly admitted that he’s incapable of extended monogamy. That’s probably why there’s an authenticity to how Rashida Jones plays the role of Laura in expressing both loyalty and exasperation when she’s with her father.

“On the Rocks” isn’t Coppola’s best film, but it’s not her worst either. The performances of Rashida Jones and Murray are the best parts of what could have been a very pedestrian movie. “On the Rocks” might be compared to Coppola’s 2003 Oscar-winning movie “Lost in Translation,” because that film also had Murray as an older man in a complicated relationship with a younger woman (played by Scarlett Johansson). However, “On the Rocks” is very much in the mold of a Woody Allen film, except that Allen doesn’t cast African Americans as stars of his movies. But just like Allen’s films, “On the Rocks” avoids showing racial issues in a racially diverse big city like New York because the movie wants to be about how privileged neurotics need love too.

Apple TV+ released “On the Rocks” in select U.S. cinemas October 9, 2020. Apple TV+ premiered “On the Rocks” on October 23, 2020.

2020 Horror Movie Hub

There’s no doubt about it: Horror movies are hot right now. Here’s a list of horror flicks with releases in 2020. They’re all here, whether they are movies with theatrical releases, films that went directly to video, or movies that are only available on streaming services or TV networks. Movies that were reviewed on Culture Mix get a featured spotlight, while all the rest of the movies are listed below.

For the purposes of this list, “horror movies” are defined as movies that are intended to be scary, which are often different from crime movies. For example, “Halloween” is a horror movie. “Scarface” is not. As a helpful guide, the movies on this list are identified by the subgenres in horror.

NOTE: This list is only for movies released in the United States. The availability of a movie on this list might vary outside the U.S.

Horror Movies of 2020: Culture Mix Reviews

1BR (Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films)

 

12 Hour Shift (Photo by Matt Glass/Magnet Releasing)

 

Algorithm: Bliss (Photo courtesy of Green Apple Entertainment)

 

Alone (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

 

Amulet (Photo by Rob Baker Ashton/Magnet Releasing)

 

Antebellum (Photo by Matt Kennedy/Lionsgate)

 

Behind You (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

 

Beneath Us (Photo courtesy of New Mainstream Entertainment)

 

Black Box (Photo by Alan Markfield/Amazon Studios)

 

Blumhouse’s Fantasy island (Photo by Christopher Moss)

 

Body Cam (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

 

Brahms: The Boy II (Photo courtesy of STX)

 

The Clearing (Photo courtesy of Crackle)

 

Color Out of Space (Photo courtesy of RLJE Films)

 

Come to Daddy (Photo by Jamie Leigh Gianopoulos)

 

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (Photo courtesy of Epic Pictures)

 

A Deadly Legend (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

 

The Deeper You Dig (Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films)

 

Do Not Reply (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

 

Evil Eye (Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/Amazon Studios)

 

Game of Death (Photo courtesy of Cleopatra Entertainment)

 

Get Gone (Photo courtesy of Cleopatra Entertainment)

 

The Grudge (Photo by Allen Fraser/Sony Pictures)

 

Halloween Party (Photo courtesy of Red Hound Films)

 

The Host (Photo by Ashley Paton Photography/Pearl Pictures Productions)

 

Hosts (Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films)

 

The Hunt (Photo by Patti Perret/Universal Pictures)

 

The Invisible Man (Photo by Mark Rogers/Universal Pictures)

 

Killer Therapy (Photo courtesy of 4Digital Media)

 

La Llorona (Photo courtesy of Shudder)

 

The Lodge (Photo courtesy of Neon)

 

Love and Monsters (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

 

Luz: The Flower of Evil (Photo courtesy of Dark Sky Films/MPI Media)

 

Nocturne (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

 

Possessor Uncut (Photo courtesy of Neon)

 

Relic (Photo courtesy of IFC Midnight)

 

The Rental (Photo courtesy of IFC Films)

 

Rent-A-Pal (Photo courtesy of IFC Films/IFC Midnight)

 

Roald Dahl’s The Witches (Photo by Daniel Smith/HBO Max)

 

Save Yourselves! (Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street)

 

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema)

 

Shortcut (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

 

Skin Walker (Photo courtesy of Cleopatra Entertainment)

 

The Sonata (Photo courtesy of Screen Media Films)

 

Spontaneous (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

 

Sputnik (Photo courtesy of IFC Films/IFC Midnight)

 

Tar (Photo courtesy of 1091 Pictures)

 

Ten Minutes to Midnight (Photo courtesy of 1091 Pictures)

 

The Turning (Photo by Patrick Redmond/Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures)

 

Uncaged (Photo courtesy of 4Digital Media)

 

Underwater (Photo by Alan Markfield)

 

The Wolf of Snow Hollow (Photo courtesy of Orion Classics)

 

The Wretched (Photo courtesy of IFC Midnight)

 

You Should Have Left (Photo by Nick Wall/Universal Pictures)

 

Zombi Child (Photo courtesy of Film Movement)

Complete List of Horror Movies Released in 2020

  • sci-fi horror = futuristic science or outer-space aliens
  • slasher horror = killer humans or wild animals
  • supernatural horror  = evil spirits
  • vampire horror = killer vampires
  • zombie horror = killer zombies

0.0MHz — supernatural horror

1BR — supernatural horror

8 Graves — supernatural horror

12 Hour Shift — slasher horror

Abominable (2020) — supernatural horror

Agony (2020) — supernatural horror

Algorithm: Bliss — sci-fi horror

Alien Outbreak — sci fi horror

#Alive — zombie horror

Alone (2020) (starring Jules Willcox) — slasher horror

Alone (2020) (starring Tyler Posey) — zombie horror

Amulet — supernatural horror

Antebellum — slasher horror

The Assent— supernatural horror

Attack of the Unknown — sci-fi horror

Attraction 2: Invasion — sci-fi horror

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting — supernatural horror

The Babysitter: Killer Queen — supernatural horror

Bad Hair — supernatural horror

The Beach House — supernatural horror

Becky — slasher horror

Before the Fire — sci-fi horror

Behind You — supernatural horror

Beneath Us — slasher horror

Black Box (2020) — sci-fi horror

The Blackout: Invasion Earth — sci-fi horror

Black Water: Abyss — slasher horror

Blood Clots — zombie/supernatural horror

Blood From Stone — vampire horror

Blood Quantum — zombie horror

The Blood Thins — supernatural horror

Blood Vessel — vampire horror

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island — supernatural horror

Body Cam — supernatural horror

Books of Blood — supernatural horror

The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Resurrection — documentary horror

Brahms: The Boy II — supernatural horror

Chop Chop — slasher horror

The Clearing (2020) — zombie horror

The Cleansing Hour — supernatural horror

Color Out of Space — sci-fi horror

Coma (2020) — sci-fi horror

Come Play — supernatural horror

Come to Daddy — slasher horror

Coven of Evil — supernatural horror

Crawlers — sci-fi horror

Cruel Peter — supernatural horror

The Current Occupant — sci-fi horror

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw — supernatural horror

Cut Off — slasher horror

The Dark and the Wicked — supernatural horror

Dark Encounter — sci-fi horror

Darkness Falls (2020) — slasher horror

A Dark Path — supernatural horror

The Dark Red — supernatural horror

Dead by Dawn — slasher horror

A Deadly Legend — supernatural horror

Dead Sound (2020) — slasher horror

Death of Me — supernatural horror

The Deeper You Dig — supernatural horror

Delivered — slasher horror

Doctor Death — slasher horror

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants — slasher horror

Do Not Reply — slasher horror

Don’t Look Back (2020) — supernatural horror

Dreamkatcher — supernatural horror

The Empty Man — supernatural horror

Evil Eye (2020) — supernatural horror

Evil Little Things — supernatural horror

Exorcism at 60,000 Feet — supernatural horror

Extra Ordinary — supernatural horror

Freaky — sci-fi horror

Game of Death (2020) — supernatural horror

Get Gone — slasher horror

Good Boy — slasher horror

The Grudge (2020) — supernatural horror

Halloween Party (2020) — supernatural horror

Holland Road Massacre: The Legend of Pigman — slasher horror

Home With a View of the Monster — supernatural horror

The Honeymoon Phase — sci-fi horror

Host (2020) — supernatural horror

The Host (2020) — slasher horror

Hosts — slasher horror

Hubie Halloween — supernatural horror

The Hunt — slasher horror

Impetigore — supernatural horror

Infection (2020) — zombie horror

In the Trap — supernatural horror

The Invisible Man (2020) — sci-fi horror

It Cuts Deep — slasher horror

Jessica Forever — sci-fi horror

Killer Therapy — slasher horror

Lake of Death — supernatural horror

La Llorona — supernatural horror

Lingering — supernatural horror

The Lodge — supernatural horror

Love and Monsters — sci-fi horror

Luz: The Flower of Evil — slasher horror

The Marshes — supernatural horror

May the Devil Take You Too — supernatural horror

Metamorphosis (2020) — supernatural horror

Monstrum — supernatural horror

The Mortuary Collection — supernatural horror

Mrs. Serial Killer — slasher horror

Murder in the Woods (2020) — slasher horror

My Valentine — slasher horror

Nocturne (2020) — supernatural horror

A Nun’s Curse — supernatural horror

The Occupant — slasher horror

The Pale Door — slasher horror

The Platform — sci-fi horror

Pooka Lives! — sci-fi horror

Possessor Uncut — sci-fi horror

Psychosynthesis — sci-fi horror

Random Acts of Violence — slasher horror

Relic — supernatural horror

The Rental (2020) — slasher horror

Rent-A-Pal — slasher horror

Return to Splatter Farm — slasher horror

Roald Dahl’s The Witches — supernatural horror

Save Yourselves! — sci-fi horror comedy

Scare Me — supernatural horror

Scare Package — supernatural horror

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street — documentary horror

Shortcut — supernatural horror

Skin Walker — supernatural horror

The Sonata — supernatural horror

Spell — supernatural horror

Spiral — supernatural horror

Spontaneous — sci-fi horror

Sputnik — sci-fi horror

Synchronic — supernatural horror

Tar — supernatural horror

Ten Minutes to Midnight  — vampire horror

Triggered — slasher horror

The Turning (2020) — supernatural horror

Uncaged (also titled Prey) – slasher horror

Uncle Peckerhead — supernatural horror

Underwater — sci-fi horror

Vampires vs. The Bronx — vampire horror

Warning: Do Not Play — supernatural horror

We Summon the Darkness — slasher horror

The Wolf of Snow Hollow — slasher horror

The Wretched — supernatural horror

You Die — supernatural horror

You Should Have Left — supernatural horror

Yummy — zombie horror

Z — supernatural horror

Zombi Child — zombie horror

 

Review: ‘Roald Dahl’s The Witches,’ starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci

October 22, 2020

by Carla Hay

Eugenia Caruso, Penny Lisle, Josette Simon, Anne Hathaway, Orla O’Rourke and Ana-Maria Maskell in “Roald Dahl’s The Witches” (Photo by Daniel Smith/HBO Max)

“Roald Dahl’s The Witches”

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in Demopolis, Alabama, in 1978, the family-friendly horror/fantasy film “Roald Dahl’s The Witches” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans) representing the middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A widowed grandmother and her orphaned grandson encounter evil witches who want to turn children into mice. 

Culture Audience: “Roald Dahl’s The Witches” will appeal primarily to people looking for lightweight, fantasy entertainment about good versus evil that has the same formula as many other family-oriented films about wicked witches who don’t like children.

Jahzir Bruno, Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci in “Roald Dahl’s The Witches” (Photo by Daniel Smith/HBO Max)

“Roald Dahl’s Witches” should’ve been named “Anne Hathaway Hamming It Up as a Witch,” because that’s really the main attraction for this duller-than-it-should-be movie. Hathaway’s Grand High Witch character—who is the leader of a coven that’s flocked to Demopolis, Alabama, in 1978—is the only one in the coven who has a distinct personality. The rest of the witches are essentially backdrops to Hathaway’s over-the-top performance in a very formulaic and unimaginative movie. Considering all of the Oscar winners who were involved in making this movie, “Roald Dahl’s Witches” isn’t horrible, but it’s a big disappointment from people who can do and have done much better work.

Directed and co-written by Oscar-winning “Forrest Gump” director Robert Zemeckis, “Roald Dahl’s Witches” (adapted from Dahl’s 1983 novel “The Witches”) is the second movie version of the book. The first movie version was 1990’s “The Witches,” directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Anjelica Huston. The 2020 movie version changed the story’s location from Europe to the United States, and made the witch-hunting grandmother and grandson African American.

It’s a change that is significant only in that the movie briefly makes some subtle references to racism, and the grandmother listens to a lot of 1960s and 1970s R&B music. Other than that, the premise of the movie remains the same: The grandmother (played by Octavia Spencer) and her orphaned grandson (played by Jahzir Bruno), who do not have names in the movie, go on a mission to hunt down and stop a coven of witches who plan to turn children into mice, in the hopes that the mice will be killed as rodent pests.

Hathaway and Spencer are both Oscar winners. Zemeckis co-wrote the screenplay to this movie with “The Shape of Water” Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris. The movie’s cast also includes Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci. On paper, it sounds like a winning combination to make a spectacular, award-worthy classic movie. The reality is that “Roald Dahl’s Witches” is frustratingly average and at times a boringly repetitive film.

We’ve seen many movies already with an over-the-top evil witch, animated animals that interact with live-action humans (in this movie’s case, the animated animals are mice and one obligatory witch’s black cat), and one big race against time to stop the chief villain from doing what the villain plans to do. Nothing in this movie is award-worthy.

That’s not to say “Roald Dahl’s Witches” doesn’t have entertaining moments. But they are arrive in between long stretches where not much happens except the grandmother and her hero son talk about and plan what they need to do to stop the witches. The boy, whose parents died in a car accident, has been living with his grandmother since becoming an orphan. (Chris Rock does voiceover narration as the hero boy as an adult.) His grandmother is slowly able to lift him out his depression over his parents’ death, and she buys him a pet female mouse that he names Daisy.

And it’s around this time that the hero boy encounters a witch with a snake coming out of her sleeve while he and his grandmother are in a hardware store. The witch’s name is Zelda (played by Josette Simon), and it turns out that she used to be the grandmother’s best friend when they were children. Zelda was turned into a witch by the Grand High Witch and has been in the coven ever since. The grandmother figures out that her grandson encountered Zelda, based on her grandson’s frightened description of the witch he saw in the hardware store.

The witches in this story have several distinctive features, which the grandmother tells her grandson about when she teaches him how to spot a witch: The witches, who are demons disguised as humans, always wear long gloves because they have claws, not hands. The witches always wear wigs, because they are actually bald. The witches have unusually long corners of their mouths, which they cover with heavy makeup. The witches have feet without toes and have oversized nostrils that become more pronounced when they can catch the scent of children.

The witches hate kids and want to get rid of all the children in the world. The witches offer candy (such as taffy) to children entice them. And witches are repulsed by clean children because these children smell like defecation to the witches. The cleaner the children are, the more they stink to the witches.

After the grandson’s scary encounter with Zelda, the grandmother and grandson check into a swanky hotel called the Grand Imperial Island Hotel, which they are able to do because of a favor from a hotel employee whom the grandmother knows. The grandmother says that she figures that her grandson will be safe to hide there because “ain’t nothin’ but rich white folks” at the hotel and “witches prey on the poor, the overlooked, the kids they think nobody’s going to make a fuss about if they go missing.”

The movie’s other reference to racism and social-class disparities in America is when the grandmother and the grandson check into the hotel and the hotel manager R. J. Stringer III (played by Tucci) looks surprised to see them there. R.J. makes a comment to the grandson that the hotel normally doesn’t get a kid like him as a guest. It’s a racially tinged, condescending remark that the grandmother picks up on right away, and she lets this stuck-up manager know that she and her grandson will be treated with the same amount of respect that the other hotel guests get.

And speaking of the other hotel guests, there’s a snobbish British couple named Mr. Jenkins (played by Charles Edwards) and Mrs. Jenkins (played by Morgana Robinson) who are at the hotel with their insecure son Bruno Jenkins (played by Codie-Lei Eastick). Bruno tries to make friends with the grandson, but Bruno’s domineering mother won’t let him. And there’s a convention going on at the hotel for a group calling itself the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, whose members are all women who wear long gloves. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who these women really are.

“Roald Dahl’s The Witches” is a by-the-numbers story that hits all the familiar beats of similar movies, and it culminates in a showdown that goes exactly how you would expect it to go. There’s nothing wrong with the acting from the cast, but it’s just so predictable and generic. (Spencer plays yet another matronly woman who gets sassy when she has to be.) Children under the age of 14 will probably enjoy this film the most. But for people who’ve got more life experience and have seen enough movies like this already, “Roald Dahl’s The Witches” is just too cookie-cutter to really have much substance and make a lasting impact on viewers.

HBO Max premiered “Roald Dahl’s The Witches” on October 22, 2020.

Review: ‘Halloween Party’ (2020), starring Amy Groening and T. Thomason

October 21, 2020

by Carla Hay

T. Thomason and Amy Groening in “Halloween Party” (Photo courtesy of Red Hound Films)

“Halloween Party” (2020)

Directed by Jay Dahl

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed Canadian city, the horror flick “Halloween Party” features a predominantly white cast (with a few African Americans and Asians) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: Two college students find out that a computer meme has unleashed some vengeful spirits. 

Culture Audience: “Halloween Party” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind seeing sloppily made horror films with subpar acting.

A scene from “Halloween Party” (Photo courtesy of Red Hound Films)

“Halloween Party” is a horror movie that bit off more than it could chew. It clumsily handles two concepts, when there really only should have been one concept. Most of the movie’s acting is so bad, it’s more cringe-inducing than the movie’s intended scares.

Written and directed by Jay Dahl, “Halloween Party” starts out fairly promising, even though there are no original ideas in the movie at all. At first, it looks like the movie will be about a deadly computer meme, but then “Halloween Party” throws in an added concept about how the Canadian university campus where this story takes place used to be the site of a hospital filled with infected mutant children. Neither concept is executed well in this movie.

Movies like 2002’s “FeardotCom,” 2014’s “Unfriended,” 2018’s “Unfriended: Dark Web” and 2019’s “Countdown” are examples of movies that have already done the concept of computer online activity leading to mysterious and violent deaths. As for dangerous mutant children, there are plenty of movies that have this concept, such as 1979’s “The Brood” and 2008’s “The Children.” Unfortunately, “Halloween Party” is a shoddily made film that won’t even get cult status because much of the movie is so boring.

In “Halloween Party,” which takes place in an unnamed Canadian city, college roommates Grace (played by Amy Groening) and Zoe (played by Marietta Laan) come across a computer meme called Halloween Party that invites someone by name to a Halloween party. The catch is that the invited person has to type in his or her biggest fear within 30 seconds (there’s a countdown clock in the meme) or else that fear will come true.

This entire concept is flimsy from the start because it assumes that the meme knows how to read minds. If someone types in a joke or something that doesn’t sound like a real fear, the meme rejects it. Grace types that her biggest fear is “vagina spiders.” Zoe types in that her biggest fear is “pigs.”

Zoe then teases Grace by fabricating a childhood story about living near a farm where a famer was eaten by his pigs. When Grace falls for the story, Zoe laughs and tells Grace that she made it all up. And at this point, you know is going to die and there’s going to be some pig imagery involved.

Later in the story, it’s revealed that Grace’s fear of “vagina spiders” are because when she was a child, she had a stomach ache, and her older sister lied to her and said it was because spiders had crawled up her vagina and laid eggs there. It’s the type of bizarre story that would lend itself well to a horror movie with an offbeat or campy sense of humor. But the only attempt at humor in “Halloween Party” is some awkward banter between some of the characters.

Sure enough, when Zoe is shown at night at her job at a clothing retail store in a deserted shopping mall, she’s killed by a mystery intruder who’s been hiding in a back stock room. And he’s wearing a pig mask. The store was closed for the night, and the killer also murdered one of Zoe’s co-workers. And why couldn’t Zoe escape? Someone locked the front door so that everyone would be trapped inside. How convenient.

Grace is devastated by Zoe’s murder, and she wonders if the computer meme had something to do with it. And so, three weeks after the murder, Grace visits the campus computer tech club, where she meets Spencer (played by T. Thomason), who’s nicknamed Special, and has all the stereotypes of being a computer nerd. It doesn’t take long for Spencer to confirm that something sinister is definitely going on with that computer meme. Spencer and Grace don’t go to the police because they know what they believe will make them look crazy.

Grace and Spencer than discover secrets of the university campus and what went on in that hospital that did medical exams on the mutant children who lived there. The mutants were victims of a chemical leak in the 1980s from a placed called the Harton Hills Chemical Plant. The chemical leak affected newborns, which caused extra flesh to grow out of their bodies and other deformities. Because this movie isn’t very imaginative, it’s easy to figure out why there might be vengeful spirits lurking about on campus and elsewhere.

Much of the movie is about Grace and Spencer playing private detectives in trying to get to the bottom of the mysteries of the computer meme and the hospital that used to be on campus. During their investigation, a few more people die. And because Grace and Spencer spend so much time together, the movie’s tone rests largely on how Grace and Spencer’s relationship is depicted.

Groening has more acting talent than Thomason, but the scenes with both of them together aren’t very compelling, especially when the pace drags toward the middle of the film. Spencer makes little jokes to show that he’s attracted to Grace, but she definitely has him in the “friend zone.” Their banter is supposed to be mostly friendly, but with some underlying sexual tension because Spencer is attracted to Grace and doesn’t have any experiencing dating a girl.

There’s a meta moment where Spencer and Grace talk about being fans of 1980s “nerd” movies. Spencer says that he thinks of these films (such as any ’80s teen movie by John Hughes) as “will they fuck” movies, because there’s always a nerd who’s pining after an attractive girl. Spencer tells Grace that if they were in a movie, they could have that moment.

Grace and Spencer’s investigation eventually leads them to the home of two retired and married doctors who used to work at the hospital: Dr. Barbara Macail (played by Shelley Thompson) and Dr. Arthur Macail (played by Jeremy Akerman). This scene has some of the worst acting in the movie, particularly when Arthur, who’s an invalid hooked up to a respiratory machine with a speaking valve, has a seizure. Another badly acted scene is when Spencer is briefly at a daytime Halloween party, and he freaks out when he sees someone wearing a mask with a skull.

And, of course, it seems as if every movie that’s set in a college or high school has a student who acts like an arrogant big shot. In “Halloween Party,” that blowhard is Court (played by Scott Bailey), who has the obligatory sidekicks who follow his lead. The wingmen include Mike, nicknamed Fartparty (played by Zack Faye), and Darren “Bubbles” Danowsky (played by Taylor Olson). Just to make sure there are enough fart references for these guys, writer/director Dahl let’s it be known in the movie that Bubbles got his nickname because when he was a kid, he liked to fart when taking baths. The world can now sleep better knowing this information.

The movie also some out-of-place montage editing in “Halloween Party” that’s supposed to look scary but it just looks like a choppy psychedelic trip, with quick-cut imagery of the “evil spirits” and “flashbacks to evil spirits.” There are parts of “Halloween Party” that have some fairly good cinematography, but other parts that look like something from a sloppy student film.

And let’s not talk about the disappointing and dumb ending. Anyone who watches “Halloween Party” and makes it that far will have to slog through a lot of tangents that this very disjointed movie makes. The computer meme concept was all this movie really needed, but to throw in a retro mutant concept just makes the story unnecessarily overstuffed. If you think this movie will have a big, frightful Halloween party scene, forget it. There is no such scene. The characters are too busy getting buried by a nonsensical plot in this bloated mess of a movie.

Red Hound Films released “Halloween Party” in select U.S. cinemas, digital and VOD on October 2, 2020.

Quibi goes out of business 6 months after launch

October 21, 2020

by Carla Hay

Quibi, the short-form streaming service whose name was short for “quick bites,” has announced that it’s shutting down, just six months after it was launched. Quibi had a reported $1 billion in investment capital; the leadership of former DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman; and a plethora of content from celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon, and LeBron James. However, it seems as if Quibi was doomed to fail for several reasons, even before its launch on April 6, 2020.

Katzenberg and Whitman announced Quibi’s permanent closure in an apologetic open letter on Medium on October 21, 2020. The letter read, in part: “Quibi was a big idea and there was no one who wanted to make a success of it more than we did. Our failure was not for lack of trying; we’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us … As a result we have reluctantly come to the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our colleagues with grace.” The letter also stated that Quibi will be “looking to sell its content and technology assets.”

Quibi’s subscription rate was $4.99 per month with ads or $7.99 per month without ads. Quibi did not offer annual subscriptions. For a limited time up until the day of the launch, Quibi offered a three-month free trial to customers. After the launch, the free trial was shortened to seven days. Perhaps out of desperation over its failure to meet subscription expectations, Quibi then extended the free trial to two weeks and then back to three months for new subscribers to the service.

Quibi aimed to set itself apart from other streaming services in four ways: Quibi’s content was delivered (1) in segments of 10 minutes or less; (2) on mobile devices only; (3) as original content only; and (4) in either portrait (vertically) or landscape (horizontal) format, with viewers being able to switch back and forth by moving the device to whichever format the viewer wanted, which is also known as turnstyle technology. Quibi was being sued by tech company Eko, which claims that Quibi stole trade secrets for this turnstyle technology. As of this writing, the lawsuit is still pending, although the outcome of the lawsuit will certainly be affected now that Quibi is longer in business.

The mobile-only aspect of Quibi’s service was the most controversial, since many customers complained that they wanted the option to watch Quibi content on desktop computers or on regular TV sets. After getting a lot of criticism for the mobile-only format, Quibi announced a few weeks after its launch that it would make its content available to watch on larger screens. However, this announcement was too little, too late. Furthermore, numerous Quibi customers complained about about not being able to take screenshots of Quibi content to share with other people.

Although Quibi launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic cannot be completely blamed for the failure of Quibi. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic caused worldwide shutdowns in March 2020, Quibi was not getting a lot of audience buzz for its content. In addition, Quibi was targeting millennials (people born between 1980–2000) for its main base of subscribers, and it’s a demographic that is used to getting free online content as much as possible. Quibi’s short content made it look too much like YouTube, whose content is almost entirely free, thereby making Quibi a hard sell to potential subscribers.

The content on Quibi had a lot of star power, but got mixed-to-negative reviews from audiences and critics. Among the more high-profile shows on Quibi were “Chrissy’s Court,” starring supermodel Chrissy Teigen as a “judge” on a courtroom reality show; “Nikki Fre$h,” a comedic satire series starring Nicole Richie as the title character, a new-age wannabe rapper; and a reboot of the MTV prank reality series “Punk’d,” hosted by Chance the Rapper.

In addition, Quibi had original movies, but because they were delivered in short segments, they ended up looking like limited series. Quibi’s movies included the action thriller “Most Dangerous Game,” starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz; the drama “Survive,” starring Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins; and the comedy “Flipped,” starring Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson.

Lopez executive produced and appeared in one episode of the reality show “Thanks a Million,” which featured a different celebrity giving away $1 million in each episode. Witherspoon executive produced and narrated the animal docuseries “Fierce Queens,” which spotlighted female wild creatures. Basketball superstar James executive produced the docuseries “I Promise,” about his I Promise school, an elementary public school that he founded in 2018, in Akron, Ohio.

One of the few bright spots in Quibi’s short existence was that Quibi won two Primetime Emmys, both for the drama series “#FreeRayshawn.”  The series won Best Actor in a Short-Form Drama or Comedy Series (for Laurence Fishburne) and Best Actress in a Short-Form Drama or Comedy Series (for Jasmine Cephas-Jones).

Review: ‘Do Not Reply,’ starring Amanda Arcuri and Jackson Rathbone

October 21, 2020

by Carla Hay

Kerri Medders, Jackson Rathbone, Elise Luthman and Amanda Arcuri in “Do Not Reply” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

“Do Not Reply”

Directed by Daniel Woltosz and Walter Woltosz

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the horror flick “Do Not Reply” has a predominantly white cast (with one African American) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A 17-year-old girl is seduced online into meeting a stranger, who kidnaps her and holds her captive with other teenage girls. 

Culture Audience: “Do Not Reply” will appeal primarily to people who like watching bottom-of-the-barrel exploitation horror films.

Jackson Rathbone in “Do Not Reply” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

The filmmakers of “Do Not Reply” must think that Lifetime hasn’t made enough “women in peril” movies where the killer has a thing for targeting cheerleaders. “Do Not Reply” has taken this cliché concept and has sunk it to new levels of badly filmed exploitation. And making things worse is that the pacing of this movie becomes so slow during much of the film that “Do Not Reply” is not only dreadful but it’s also excruciatingly dull. “Do Not Reply” has nudity and cursing in its attempt to be “edgier” than a Lifetime movie, but it uses the same template of any Lifetime movie about a psycho who wants cheerleaders to die.

Lazily written and directed by Walter Woltosz and his son Daniel Woltosz in their feature-film debut, “Do Not Reply” also rips off the same premise of any movie about a teenage girl who’s lured into a dangerous situation by a stranger online. The main character who’s the kidnapping victim in this story is a 17-year-old student in high school named Chelsea (played by Amanda Arcuri), who fits the predictable “good girl” virginal stereotype in horror movies like this one. Chelsea has been chatting online with a guy with the screen name VRCowboy, who claims to also be 17 years old, but anyone with a brain can see that he’s a much older man.

Chelsea has a friend named Mia (played by Ivon Millan), who’s exchanged nude photos of herself with a guy she wants to date named Dylan (played by Curran Walters), who’s also in high school and is a typical pretty boy who’s accustomed to girls having crushes on him. Chelsea is mildly horrified that Mia is so cavalier about sending nude photos to a guy who’s not even her boyfriend.

Chelsea asks Mia if she’s worried about Dylan showing Mia’s nude pics to his friends, and Mia shrugs it off and says she’s thought about it, but she naïvely thinks that Dylan wouldn’t do that. Meanwhile, Mia asks Chelsea if she wants to see the nude photo of Dylan’s penis that he sent to her, and Chelsea immediately says no. And with that, this movie checks off another cliché in stories about a virginal teenage female victim: She has a close friend who’s more “boy crazy” than she is.

Dylan has a close friend named Seth (played by Christian Hutcherson), who’s attracted to Chelsea. When Dylan invites Mia over to his place for a “party” at his house, Mia uses it as an excuse to bring Chelsea along to try and manipulate this situation into a “double date.” The “party” is really just Dylan, Mia, Chelsea and Seth, who all sit on a couch together.

It isn’t long before Dylan and Mia leave the room to go into a bedroom, thereby leaving Chelsea and the Seth together on the couch. Seth makes a pass at Chelsea, who rebuffs his advances. The next day, when Chelsea tells Mia that Seth wanted Chelsea to give him oral sex, Mia’s response is that Chelsea should’ve done it. That tells viewers all they need to know about what kind of “friend” Mia is.

Meanwhile, Chelsea continues to chat with VRCowboy online, and they eventually get to talking on the phone. He tells her that his name is Brad (played by Jackson Rathbone) and they do some heavy flirting. Chelsea lies and tells Brad that she’s a cheerleader, so he asks her to send him a photo of herself in her cheerleader uniform. It just so happens that Chelsea’s snooty older sister Kristina (played by Savannah Kennick) is a cheerleader, who isn’t home at the time, so Chelsea borrows Kristina’s cheerleader uniform and poses for some flirty selfie photos that she sends to Brad.

As for Brad, he never sends her any photos of himself. And apparently, Chelsea never bothers to ask where she can find him on social media. It seems that he contacted her randomly by text and that’s how they “met” online. When Chelsea and Brad start doing video chats, his face is obscured and blurred-out on screen. His excuse is that the camera got damaged when he accidentally dropped his phone, and he hasn’t bothered to get it fixed.

Despite all of these red flags that Brad is a con artist, Chelsea becomes infatuated with Brad, because he says all of the right things to her. Based on the brief interactions that the movie shows Chelsea having with people close to her, it’s easy to see that she feels overshadowed by her popular sister Kristine, and Chelsea wants to experience dating the way that her friend Mia is experiencing dating. Instead of being comfortable with herself, Chelsea wants to be more like them.

These are the type of insecurities that sexual predators pounce on, and Chelsea is the type of victim who does everything that a predator hopes a victim will do. Brad makes arrangements to meet Chelsea in person. At first, he wants her to come over to his house alone, but she’s at least smart enough to say no. However, Chelsea doesn’t agree to go to Brad’s house mostly because she doesn’t drive and she thinks he lives too far away.

Instead, Brad and Chelsea agree to meet at a Halloween party that’s happening at an abandoned warehouse. Chelsea, who doesn’t tell anyone where she’s going, decides to go to the party dressed as a zombie cheerleader, while Brad goes as a zombie football player. This movie is so dumb that when Brad meets Chelsea at the party, he keeps his helmet on the entire time, and not once does she think it’s strange that he won’t show his face, nor does she ask him to take his helmet off. If Chelsea could see Brad’s face, she’d see that he’s definitely not 17. He’s actually in his 30s.

And then, when Brad gives her some fruity alcohol in a bottle, it’s very easy to know what’s going to happen next. The drink is drugged, of course, making it easy for Brad to put Chelsea in his car. Witnesses at the party who see Brad putting Chelsea in his car assume that she’s his drunk date, and he’s being a gentleman who’s giving her a ride.

Chelsea wakes up to find herself kidnapped and locked inside Brad’s house. And she’s got company: Three other girls who are around her age are there for the same reason: to satisfy Brad’s sick fetish for torturing and raping cheerleaders. It turns out that he has a twisted sexual obsession for someone in his past named Sadie, a blonde cheerleader who rejected him.

There are flashbacks to Brad’s encounters with Sadie (played by Nikki Leigh), who was close to Brad for a reason: Sadie was his sister. It’s not really a spoiler to reveal this information, because the only spoiler information for this utterly predictable movie is to reveal who survives and who doesn’t.

Brad has a computer room where he does his online predator activity. The room has a lot of technology, including video monitors for the surveillance cameras that are all over his house. Brad also has a virtual-reality system that comes with an elaborate headset where he watches videos of himself torturing his victims. Brad wants all of his victims to have blonde hair and wear cheerleader outfits, and he forces all of them to be called Sadie.

In addition to Chelsea, the three other kidnapping victims in the house are Meagan (played by Kerri Medders), who is the most brainwashed of the group because she’s convinced that she and Brad are in love; Heather (played by Elise Luthman), who tries to help Chelsea while pretending to obey Brad; and Tina (played by Ashlee Füss), who wants to escape too, but she’s severely injured from a leg wound and is confined to her bed.

Chelsea tries to escape soon after she gains consciousness, but Meagan stops her. Meagan wants to be Brad’s “favorite” so she’s immediately jealous of Chelsea as the “newcomer,” because she sees Chelsea as a potential threat for Brad’s “affections.” Meagan acts like a watchdog for Brad to make sure that the other kidnapping victims don’t try to escape.

Chelsea is a natural brunette, so one of the first things that Meagan tells Chelsea is that she has to dye her hair blonde. “Do Not Reply” is so badly made that instead of a dye job, an obvious, cheap-looking blonde wig is used for Chelsea. Why bother with mentioning a dye job when an unconvincing-looking wig is used instead? Why not just have a blonde wig in Brad’s house as an explanation and be done with it? It’s an example of how this movie insults viewers’ intelligence.

Another thing about the movie that doesn’t make sense is that later in the movie, Chelsea has access to a bottle of prescription medication in Brad’s house. Chelsea and Meagan are in charge of preparing the meals that everyone eats. Chelsea could’ve drugged Brad and Meagan with all that medication, and then found a way to escape by stealing Brad’s keys to the front door. It’s a huge plot hole that’s too big to ignore.

The movie takes a bizarre and dark turn when Chelsea commits a heinous act to impress Brad, in order to convince him that she’s fallen in love with him. It’s in this scene that “Do Not Reply” takes the point of no return, from being semi-suspenseful trash to being just trash. All of the acting is mediocre at best and downright embarrassing at worst. The only cast member who does a consistently adequate performance is Füss as Tina, but Tina is bedridden and doesn’t have much screen time in this horrible film that was obviously made to have young women running around looking terrified in cheerleader costumes.

“Do Not Reply” attempts to make itself look scarier than it really is, by having tacky-looking red lighting in the “torture room,” but it just looks like the back room of a low-rent strip club. And the movie tries to make Brad look like the VR headset version of “Halloween” villain Michael Myers. But because the “Do Not Reply” story is flimsy to begin with, the movie drags out in too many places.

Rathbone’s portrayal of Brad as a psycho villain isn’t convincing enough. Brad doesn’t look very menacing most of the time. Brad just looks constipated.

And at the end of the movie, there’s a statistic from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that states: “The average age of online enticement is 15 years old.” It’s as if the filmmakers tacked on this public-service announcement warning at the end of the movie to try to erase all the female exploitation in the movie. Too late. “Do Not Reply” is irredeemable garbage, and no PSA message at the end of the movie is going to get rid of the stink.

Gravitas Ventures released “Do Not Reply” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on October 2, 2020.

AMC Networks partners with Adopt-A-Pet.com for FurFest adoption promotion

October 20, 2020

The following is a press release from AMC Networks:

AMC Networks today announced it has teamed up with Adopt-a-Pet.com, North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website, for AMC’s annual horror marathon FearFest, to raise awareness for pet adoption with ‘FurFest.’ All month long, AMC, AMC+, and Shudder are encouraging viewers to support Adopt-a-Pet.com’s mission to end the overpopulation of companion animals in shelters and help pets find loving forever homes through custom, PET-tacular spots airing across linear, digital, and social channels.

The custom spots, featuring a few four-legged horror fans, encourage viewers to find their perfect watch buddies through adoptions and especially raise awareness for black cat and black dog adoptions this spooky season. Halloween may be the season for magical black cats, but in reality, they are most often left behind in shelters because of the color of their fur. Many animal welfare organizations call this “black cat syndrome,” with the phenomenon happening with black dogs as well. Through the collaboration, audiences are encouraged and inspired to help fight “black cat syndrome” by adopting these furry friends or by donating to Adopt-a-Pet.com. See the custom spot: 

“We all know that spooky season is best enjoyed with a buddy by your side, which is why we’re thrilled to join forces with Adopt-a-Pet.com to help viewers find their perfect four-legged watch companions,” said Linda Schupack, President of Marketing, AMC Networks Entertainment Group. “The movies on AMC’s FearFest and Shudder are already scary enough. How great to cuddle up with a lovely black cat or black dog for Halloween and beyond.”

“Teaming up with AMC Networks is an exciting and unique way to spread the word about pet adoption,” said Dana Puglisi, Chief Marketing Officer of Adopt-a-Pet.com. “We appreciate AMC and Shudder’s efforts to help get more pets into loving homes. And we love all the extra snuggles those newly adopted pets will receive while their people binge through the FearFest thrills!”

Now in its 24th consecutive year, AMC’s annual horror marathon FearFest brings the frights with an entire month of genre programming from iconic franchises like Halloween and Insidious, and the return of award-winning docuseries Eli Roth’s History of HorrorShudder, dubbed “the ultimate in streaming horror” by Newsweek, offers the best selection of original and classic horror, thriller and supernatural films and series, uncut and commercial free. Both are also now available as part of the new AMC+, a premium streaming bundle featuring only the good stuff, which also includes IFC Midnight’s best genre cinema from independent, foreign and documentary films. In addition to the largest slate of classic horror movies such as Friday the 13th and Halloween, AMC+ also includes all series within The Walking Dead Universe, as well as AMC’s Eli Roth’s History of Horror, and new Shudder programming, such as Joe Bob’s Halloween Hideaway Special and A Creepshow Animated Special, and much more.

See the full FearFest lineup.


Find the Best in Horror at Shudder.

About AMC Networks

Known for its groundbreaking and celebrated original content, AMC Networks is the company behind the award-winning brands AMC, BBC AMERICA, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, and IFC Films. Its diverse line-up of popular and critically-acclaimed series and independent films include Killing EveBetter Call Saul and The Walking Dead, which has been the #1 show on ad-supported cable television for ten consecutive years, as well as PortlandiaBrockmireLove After Lockup, and the films BoyhoodDeath of Stalin, and many more. Its original series Mad Men and Breaking Bad are widely recognized as being among the most influential and acclaimed shows in the history of TV. The Company also operates AMC Studios, its production business; AMC Networks International, its international programming business; the subscription streaming services Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, and UMC; and Levity Entertainment Group, the Company’s production services and comedy venues business. For more information, visit http://www.amcnetworks.com.

About Shudder

AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit ​www.shudder.com​.

About Adopt-a-Pet.com

Adopt-a-Pet.com is North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website, helping over 19,000 animal shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies advertise their purebred and mixed breed pets for free to millions of adopters each month. Sponsored by companies including Purina, Chewy, and Elanco Animal Health LLC, Adopt-a-Pet.com helps homeless dogs, cats, and even rabbits and other animals go from alone to adopted.

Hulu announces premiere of ‘Eater’s Guide to the World,’ narrated by Maya Rudolph

October 20, 2020

Hulu has released the trailer and photos from the documentary series “Eater’s Guide to the World.” All seven episodes of the first season will premiere on November 11, 2020.

Here is Hulu’s synopsis of the show:

Discover the most surprising culinary destinations in “Eater’s Guide to the World.” Join narrator Maya Rudolph on a quest to find the most unexpected places to score an epic meal, while drinking and dining with the locals along the way.

Season 1, Episode 101: “Dining Alone in the Pacific Northwest

The best part of dining solo? You can focus on what deserves your attention most — the food. Time to eat your way through the Pacific Northwest, savoring the juicy pork steak, soba noodles, and piping hot fried chicken.

Season 1, Episode 102: “Cultural Crossroads in Casablanca”

No cool friend would let you skip Casablanca while on a trip to Morocco. This can’t-miss port city boasts snails, traditional pastilla, and unreal tagine — you’ve gotta taste it all.

Season 1, Episode 103: “The Ass Crack of Dawn in New York City”

It’s last call and you’re freakin’ hungry. What the f*** do you do? Luckily, you’re in New York City, where your crew can choose from mouth-watering options like Korean BBQ, empanadas, and birria — all before the sun hits the horizon.

Season 1, Episode 104: “Jungle to Table in Costa Rica”

The Costa Rican jungle is basically nature’s candy store, and we’d like to invite you in. Bursting with delicious guanabana, cainito, cas, pejibaye, and of course cacao — known to some as the fruit of the gods! Of the GODS, y’all!

Season 1, Episode 105: “Eating on the Hood of Your Car in LA”

Buckle tf up! When you’re in LA, your car’s your sanctuary. Treat it with the respect it deserves, and dig in to life-changing hot chicken, fresh bread drops, and museum-worthy bento boxes in its presence.

Season 1, Episode 106: “Planting Roots in Tijuana Mexico”

Local, regular, newcomer — whoever you are, Tijuana has something delicious for you to eat. Grab a seat and try the craft beer, pork belly tacos, Caesar salad (trust us) and yeah, you’ll want to stay awhile.

Season 1, Episode 107: “Taking Off in America”

You eat at an airport because you have to, not because you want to. But just beyond the departure terminals you’ll find smoky BBQ, sweet n’ fluffy pancakes and a bowl of warm borbor—all worth going the extra mile.

True Crime Entertainment: What’s New This Week

The following content is generally available worldwide, except where otherwise noted. All TV shows listed are for networks and streaming services based in the United States. All movies listed are those released in U.S. cinemas. This schedule is for content and events premiering this week and does not include content that has already been made available.

Monday, October 19 – Sunday, October 25

TV/Streaming Services

All times listed are Eastern Time/Pacific Time, unless otherwise noted.

Netflix’s docuseries “Unsolved Mysteries” (Volume 2) premieres on Monday, October 19 at 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT.

Monday, October 19

“Unsolved Mysteries”
(Episodes 101-106) **Season Premiere**
Monday, October 19, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Netflix

“Last Looks”
(Episode 108) 
Monday, October 19, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“Murder Unboxed”
(Episodes 101) **Series Premiere**
Monday, October 19, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“World’s Most Evil Killers”
“Monster of Marcinelle”
Monday, October 19, 9 a.m., Reelz

“World’s Most Evil Killers”
“Barber of Potenza”
Monday, October 19, 10 a.m., Reelz

“World’s Most Evil Killers”
“Trick Driver Killers”
Monday, October 19, 11 a.m., Reelz

“Fatal Attraction”
“When a Killer Goes Free” (Audrey Scott) (Episode 1012) 
Monday, October 19, 9 p.m., TV One

“The Missing”
“Missing Teens” (Episode 105) 
Monday, October 19, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“The Missing”
“Night Out Gone Wrong” (Episode 106) **Season Finale**
Monday, October 19, 9:30 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Killer Carnies”
“The Sideshow Murders” (Episode 101) **Series Premiere**
Monday, October 19, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Tuesday, October 20

“Last Looks”
(Episode 109) 
Tuesday, October 20, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“Murder Unboxed”
(Episodes 102) 
Tuesday, October 20, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“Homicide City”
“Deadly Circle of Friends” (Episode 306)
Tuesday, October 20, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Dead Silent”
“Quiet the Dog” (Episode 401) **Season Premiere**
Tuesday, October 20, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Wednesday, October 21

“Last Looks”
(Episode 110) 
Wednesday, October 21, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“Murder Unboxed”
(Episodes 103) 
Wednesday, October 21, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“Crimes Gone Viral”
“No You Don’t!” (Episode 113)
Wednesday, October 21, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Crimes Gone Viral”
“Out of Control” (Episode 114)
Wednesday, October 21, 9:30 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Chaos in Court”
“Enough Is Enough (Episode 106)
Wednesday, October 21, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“The Con”
“The Heiress Con” (Episode 102)
Wednesday, October 24, 10 p.m., ABC

Thursday, October 22

“Last Looks”
(Episode 111) 
Monday, October 19, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“Murder Unboxed”
(Episodes 104) 
Thursday, October 22, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“Buried in the Backyard”
“Buried in the Woods:  Girl in the Grave” (Episode 308)
Thursday, October 22, 8 p.m., Oxygen

“Injustice With Nancy Grace”
“Friend or Foe?” (Episode 203) 
Thursday, October 22, 9 p.m., Oxygen

“Suspicious Minds”
“Who Killed the Councilman” (Episode 103)
Thursday, October 22, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“The Killer Beside Me”
“Schooled in Murder” (Episode 306) **Series Premiere**
Thursday, October 22, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Friday, October 23

“Last Looks”
(Episode 112) 
Friday, October 23, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“Murder Unboxed”
(Episodes 105) 
Friday, October 23, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Quibi

“Dateline: Secrets Uncovered”
“The Unusual Suspect”
Friday, October 23, 8 p.m., Oxygen

“20/20”
Friday, October 23, 10 p.m., ABC

“Dateline”
Friday, October 23, 10 p.m., NBC

“American Greed: Bonus Edition”
“Operation Crook, Line and Sinker”
Friday, October 23, 10 p.m., CNBC

Saturday, October 24

“License to Kill”
“Nursing Home Nightmares” (Episode 212)
Saturday, October 24, 6 p.m., Oxygen

Sunday, October 25

“Snapped”
“Nancy Siegel” (Episode 2808)
Sunday, October 25, 6 p.m., Oxygen

“Judgment With Ashleigh Banfield”
(Episode 107)
Sunday, October 25, 8 p.m., Court TV

“Evil Lives Here”
“The Found Them in Storage” (Episode 808) **Season Finale**
Sunday, October 25, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult”
“Indoctrinated” (Episode 102)
Sunday, October 25, 9 p.m., Starz

Movies in Theaters or on Home Video

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, numerous movie theaters in the U.S. are closed until further notice. Some independent movie theaters that are physically closed are showing movies online, as part of a “virtual cinema” program. 

“The State of Texas Vs. Melissa”

Directed by Sabrina Van Tassel

Release date: October 20, 2020 on digital and VOD

“The State of Texas vs. Melissa” explores the life journey of Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman to be sentenced to death in the state of Texas. For 10 years, she has been awaiting her fate—and she now faces her last appeal.

Radio/Podcasts

The following content is generally available worldwide, except where otherwise noted. All TV shows listed are for networks and streaming services based in the United States. All movies listed are those released in U.S. cinemas. This schedule is for content and events premiering this week and does not include content that has already been made available.

No true-crime podcast series debuting this week.

Events

Events listed here are not considered endorsements by this website. All ticket buyers with questions or concerns about the event should contact the event promoter or ticket seller directly.

All start times listed are local time, unless otherwise noted.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most in-person events in the U.S. have been cancelled or postponed if the event was expecting at least 50 people in the year 2020.

No true-crime events this week.